The Best for the Best: A Reliable and Secure Wi-Fi Network for a Five-Star Resort
Located directly on Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast, Le Méridien is the ideal spot to relax by the waters of the Adriatic or to explore the picturesque city of Split. I have worked here in my role as IT manager since 2006, and it’s an interesting, dynamic job. My team consists of myself and a system administrator, who is my right hand and has also been with the hotel from the beginning. Between the two of us, we have been responsible for project management, purchasing, and implementation of all systems.
Until 11 years ago, Le Méridien, Split had no wireless network at all. At the time, standard practice at Le Méridien was to only have an Ethernet connection in guest rooms. On our guest experience surveys, however, one of our biggest complaints was guest satisfaction with in-room entertainment, which includes internet access. We had to improve our in-room entertainment, and in doing so, we had to recognize that, Wi-Fi access is ubiquitous to a satisfactory experience. It is just as important as water flowing out of a tap.
At that point we had two separate networks. For our administrative network that runs all the important systems, we have always chosen Cisco equipment. We had previously chosen another provider for our guest wireless network, but we wanted to increase our capacity and coverage significantly to meet our growing needs for the next five years or more.
Learning From Our Mistakes
In our long experience, Cisco is the top of this industry, and we believed it would be the right solution for our guest Wi-Fi. We are very lucky to have a reliable Cisco partner, IT company named Smartnet, right here in Split, so I got in touch.
On the hotel side, our 381 rooms equate to, on average, 700–800 guests during high season. Add to that our large conference center, which may host up to 1,500 concurrent users. And then there are other kinds of devices connecting to the network. The new solution would have to work with IoT, specifically our electronic door locks. And, of course, the solution would have to be within our budget.
Ultimately, Smartnet and Cisco Croatia scoped a solution based on Cisco Wi-Fi 6 that would meet all of Le Méridien’s needs. This time, I knew we were getting the best. And it was not as expensive as I expected.
A Stress-Free Implementation
Smartnet performed a series of site surveys that became crucial in the success of our network. As our network is divided into five blocks, they checked every room and every corridor as a basis for the network design, to ensure that we would have sufficient Wi-Fi coverage everywhere. That was important because the Wi-Fi is not just for guest use, but also for a lot of applications that our employees use, such as those in facility management or housekeeping.
Team was responsible for planning and deployment, which included installing 272 access points, three wireless controllers, and a lot of smart switches. They brought a large team to work all day, every day, and were professional throughout, working around our schedule.
After installation, it was time to test. We deployed Wi-Fi 6 during our off-peak season, meaning we could direct our colleagues in reservations to keep a specific block of guest rooms empty. We moved block by block in that way, testing each empty block before turning on the new Wi-Fi network. The rest of the resort, however, was still open. Since they know our resort runs 24/7, the Smartnet team worked overnight to switch on the new network with no disruption to users.
Cisco Croatia team also followed up with me throughout the process to make sure everything was going to plan. That was another pleasant surprise. Very often when evaluating a new system, you have the vendor’s attention until you sign the contract. Afterward, it’s a different story. That wasn’t the case with Cisco. They’ve shown genuine care throughout.
Seamless Connectivity and Easy Management Makes for Higher Ratings and More Time
From signing the contract to completion took approximately two months—and the only reason it took that long is because Smartnet and Cisco Croatia had to work around our availability. Immediately, we started seeing the benefits of Wi-Fi 6. Improved roaming between access points resulted in seamless connectivity throughout the resort and conference center.
With Wi-Fi 6, we don’t have to worry about the security of our network. It’s easy for us to configure the settings so that guests can share an access point without the threat of spreading a virus or having access to someone else’s data on the same network.
Smartnet handles ongoing maintenance, and I know that if I ever have a question, I can call them. They’re the experts who understand our needs and our standard operating procedures. Because of our new reliable network and the strength of our technology partner, I spend very little time thinking about wireless connectivity at all. Instead, I can focus on other IT needs.
Most importantly, guests do not complain anymore. We now score a nine or 10 on our guest experience surveys. For a hotel business, that is crucial. When guests are happy, we are happy.
Cisco Brings Prestige to Our Hotel and Reliability to Our Service
Whether they are here for a tech conference or are on vacation, our guests from all over the world recognize the Cisco name. When guests discover that Le Méridien uses Cisco solutions, they know that we have invested in the best of the best for them.
My stakeholders see it too. IT teams always want the best equipment out there, but executives don’t always understand what it’s like working with subpar solutions on the ground. I have been lucky to have a general manager who understands how important the Wi-Fi is to guest satisfaction. In hospitality, you need a system that works 100% of the time. If it only works only 99% of the time, that is 3.65 days a year that you are not meeting guest expectations.
For years, we have been impressed with the Cisco equipment running our administrative network. Now, we've experienced a full Cisco Wi-Fi network, and the impact is priceless. We now have a top-notch Wi-Fi network for our top-notch resort environment all year round.